Fans of The Last of Us game series by Naughty Dog knew that there would be changes in the HBO version. Most of the first episode of the TV show is the same as the games, but there are some differences that are clear right away. The creators of the story made an interesting choice with the timeline, but fans probably won’t get to see Joel sing “Future Days” by Pearl Jam to Ellie.
The first part of The Last of Us starts with Joel during the outbreak of the Cordyceps fungus that has changed. But things are a little different because the outbreak happens in 2003 instead of 2013. This change may have been made by showrunner Craig Mazin to move the outbreak closer to September 11, 2001.
The terrorist attacks on September 11 and how the U.S. responded to them seem to be the allegory that the show’s creators are leaning into. And in the big picture, it’s not that big of a change in terms of things like technology and pop culture. “Future Days,” on the other hand, is a piece of pop culture that Pearl Jam didn’t make until 2013.
Why Is It Important For The Last of Us That Joel Sings “Future Days” To Ellie?
This problem will happen a long time from now, in Season 2 or even later, depending on how fast the story moves. The moment in question happens early in The Last of Us Part II, which mostly takes place four years after the first game. In a scene that looks like a flashback, players can see Joel give Ellie her guitar. He plays and sings the beginning of “Future Days” from Pearl Jam’s 2013 album Lightning Bolt to show her how to use it. Then he feels bad about himself and stops.
The tension between Joel and Ellie is an important part of both the story of The Last of Us and their relationship. But when Joel sings to her, it’s one of the sweetest parts of the whole game. It’s a rare scene that would happen exactly the same way even if it didn’t take place in a world destroyed by zombies. But because the end of the world happened at a different time, Pearl Jam never got around to putting out Lightning Bolt. And “Future Days'” themes of sadness and loss fit The Last of Us very well.
Obviously, if The Last of Us on HBO wants to use the scene, the only thing that would have to change is the song. There are a lot of songs from before 2003 that could work for this situation. But the show could also keep the scene the way it is, which would be great for (the fictional) Pearl Jam.
Would Pearl Jam Perform The Song First on The Last of Us?
The Walking Dead, which just ended on AMC, didn’t have “hope” built into its story, but The Last of Us did. Ellie is the easy answer that most zombie stories don’t have. So instead of a very violent and heartbreaking trek across the country, Joel and Ellie might run into groups of people who are also new to the story.
If Bill Murray, who is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, could survive in Zombieland, why can’t Pearl Jam avoid the clickers and other monsters in The Last of Us? The great thing about “Future Days” is that it sounds like it could have been written after the end of the world.
What if Joel and Ellie happen to come across a settlement where Pearl Jam is playing and hear the song? When he later gives her the guitar, the song will mean even more to her when he plays it for her. Instead of just being a pop song from before the end of the world, it becomes a song that Ellie and Joel both have a personal connection to.
When a well-known grunge rock band shows up in a zombie wasteland, this kind of natural synergy is more than enough to help people suspend their disbelief. It also means that the scene is more than just a cool Easter egg for gamers. Also, Pearl Jam’s songs are often used in TV shows, but the band members rarely show up.
No matter what Mazin and his team decide about Pearl Jam, it won’t be a quick or easy choice. Even though the game’s story has a few small changes, The Last of Us stays true to the parts that hooked players and set up emotional payoffs that video games rarely deliver. The “Future Days” moment is one of the best parts of the show, and the people who make the HBO show would be stupid not to honor it.
The Last of Us airs new episodes on HBO and HBO Max every Sunday at 9:00 p.m.